Nuclear medicine scan involves administration, usually intravenously, of a very small dose of a radiopharmaceutical. This substance is taken up by various tissues or organs of the body. The distribution and degree of uptake can be altered by different illnesses. A gamma camera is used to image the body or body part of concern to show the distribution of the radiopharmaceutical.
The actual scan protocol depends on the type of examination as well the clinical information required. Usually there is a delay between administrating the radiopharmaceutical and the actual scan. This is usually a few minutes to hours but can be as long as 2 to 3 days. Sometimes multiple scans need to be taken usually on the same day but can also be over a number of days. Occasionally, other drugs may be administered during or before the scan. For further details, please contact us.
Myocardial perfusion examinations are a special nuclear medicine examination that involves imaging after stressing the heart and at rest. The stressing procedure usually involves walking on a treadmill, use of a pharmaceutical stress agent or both. The final decision being made based on the patients mobility, fitness level and previous history. The patient will be fully monitored during stress with ECG, heart rate and blood pressure measurements. There is a very small risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) or other heart events during the procedure but all steps will be taken to minimise this. The staff involved are also highly trained in the procedure as well as resuscitation.
Whilst there is always a small risk with any dose of radiation, the amount used for a Nuclear Medicine scan is very small and may be less than that used for CTs. At Lime Radiology, we are always mindful of the dosage used and will endeavor to use the minimum required for a good quality scan. It must also be remembered that the risk of the radiation exposure would be much less than the risk of non diagnosing or delaying the diagnosis. Your referring doctor would be aware of the radiation risks and should have satisfied himself or herself that the examination is worthwhile for your further medical management.
Most Nuclear Medicine studies do not require any or have only minimal preparation. Some studies however do require preparation which must be strictly followed or the scan results may be inaccurate or un-interpretable.